An acclaimed Chicago Imagist, Roger Brown (BFA 1968, MFA 1970) collected flea market objects and created paintings that served as social and cultural commentaries of the day.
Roger Brown (BFA 1968, MFA 1970) was a leading Chicago Imagist painter who launched a successful professional career right out of graduate school that lasted 27 years. He made paintings, sculpture, prints, sets and costumes for theater and opera, and large-scale murals for architectural settings. He also created, lived, and worked in homes, studios, and gardens that were essential to his artistic career.
Born in 1941 in Hamilton, Alabama, Brown was raised in the fundamentalist Church of Christ, which was formative and lasting. Growing up, Brown had developed a profound appreciation for folk art and handmade, functional objects. At SAIC he studied with professors Ray Yoshida and Whitney Halstead, who encouraged him to look at non-Western art forms and nontraditional, self-taught artists like Joseph Yoakum for inspiration.
This love for outsider and folk art stayed with him as he collected art and objects in Chicago’s flea markets, thrift shops, and in his travels, filling his homes in Chicago; New Buffalo, Michigan; and La Conchita, California with his collections.
In his paintings, Brown had a signature style described in 1997 by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as, “Formally dazzling, instantly legible and psychologically charged, this style, which solidified in the early 1970's, adapted to numerous themes and spatial concepts and yielded what were often caustic morality plays masquerading as luminescent, beautifully composed paintings.”
Brown’s art is held in many museum collections, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Brown died in 1997, leaving his homes and studios to SAIC. Visit the Roger Brown Study Collection to learn more.